Contributed by Edwin Doyle, Global Security Strategist, Check Point Software.

Cyber security professionals are in high demand, with many companies desperate to find talent. According to tech job-tracker Cyber Seek, almost 1 million professionals are working in cyber security in the US, but there are still a whopping 464k+ open opportunities!

Cyber security threats

The increased demand makes sense when you look at the cyber threat landscape. In 2020 alone, there were over 29K cyber security incidents, according to Statista. A data breach is the most common cyber security threat businesses face today. This is because many small and large businesses, in all sectors, need to update their cyber security policy, infrastructure & education. Recent data shows hundreds of cyber incidents happening in finance, healthcare, education, and even manufacturing and mining industries.

Another cause for concern is the cost of remediating a cyber-attack. Data breach costs have never been higher, according to IBM, rising from $3.86mn in 2020 to $4.24mn in 2021. The researchers also found that organizations with better cloud modernization were able to contain a breach 77 days faster, on average, reducing remediation costs.

The concerns about cyber attacks are expected to increase investment in cyber security infrastructure. Market analysts expect a $345.4bn cyber security market worldwide by 2026.

In-demand skills and certifications

Labor market researcher Burning Glass analyzed the job market for the top cyber security skills for 2021. According to them, application development security, cloud security, and risk management are the top three areas, respectively. Within these specializations, DevSecOps, microservices security, cloud infrastructure security, and cyber security assessment are some of the fast-growing skill gaps.

For many cyber security professionals, certificate programs and field training contribute more to skill development than degree programs. Currently, there’s a shortage of people with compulsory certifications. Nationwide, there are about 17K CISMs (Certified Information Security Manager), according to Cyber Seek, but over 39K jobs currently requiring the certification!

Similarly, over 106K jobs ask for CISSPs (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), but just over 90K people have the requested qualification. Supply is also lower than demand for CISAs (Certified Information Systems Auditor).

As with most industries, some skills and certificates become commonplace. There are around 130K more CompTIA Security+ certificate holders than needed by the industry.

It’s important to mention here that job stats need to be seen in context. The job numbers can be inflated because the same job may be posted on multiple platforms to attract a larger pool of talent. Also, in many organizations, IT workers are taking on the responsibilities of cyber security professionals.

Cyber security education

Realizing demand and other factors, such as security concerns with remote work, many companies have arranged cyber security training for their employees. Similarly, colleges and big tech companies are also expanding their programs in providing cybersecurity awareness and training.

Microsoft has announced it’ll expand its partnership with community colleges for cyber security training. IBM plans on training 150K people in cyber security in the next 3 years. Computer education non-profit has pledged to train three million students.

Damages resulting from a cyber attacks are becoming more and more common worldwide. It’s a fact that many businesses simply don’t have enough cyber security budget, let alone the talent to hire if they did! Thankfully, filling this skill gap is currently underway, but in the meantime, the demand outweighs the supply, creating plenty of lucrative opportunities for people with the right degree and/or certificate to fulfil the current demand at a price of their choosing!

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